Abdo Husameddine, Syria's Deputy Oil Minister, announced his defection in an online video. Husameddine is the highest ranking official to leave President Bashar Assad's regime since the country's uprising last year. The Deputy Oil Minister explained he was defecting due to the brutal crackdown on dissent which has claimed thousands of Syrians' lives in the past year.
Husameddine identified himself as an "assistant" to the Oil Minister and a member of the ruling Baath Party in the video that was posted on YouTube. In the video, he is shown reading a paper, wearing a suit and tie and sitting on a sofa at an undisclosed location and he says, "I, Abdo Husameddine, Deputy Oil and Mineral Resources Minister, announce my defection from the regime and resignation from my post and declare that I am joining dignified people's revolution."
The defecting official continues, "You have inflicted on those you claim are your people a full year of sorrow and sadness, denied them their basic rights to life and humanity and pushed the country to the edge of the abyss. I do not want to end my life servicing the crimes of this regime." Husameddine has served for the regime for over 33 years in a variety of government positions. In the YouTube video, Husameddine said he was defecting, "knowing full well that this regime will burn my home, persecute my family and make up a lot of lies. I advise my colleagues to abandon this sinking ship."